Friday, August 12, 2011

Farmer Mikey

Alright here are some pictures of what I have been up to lately.  I built a new garden behind my family’s house.  It is much larger than my other garden; it is about 15meters by 35 meters.  I have planted beans, corn, potatoes, cassava, rice and peanuts.  I plowed it with my brother all by hand with a shovel.  It took me a few hours each day working to finish it.  
My new Garden

Me in my new garden

Me planting rice
I recently was woken up to the familiar sound of my host brother banging on my door to wake me up to come help him work.  This time he was going to one of his fields to plow it with cows and had no one else to go with him.  I told him I would meet him there I had to make breakfast and get dress first.  

Finished plowed field


When I finally made it out there I saw him with three small boys helping him plow his field.  I was completely taken back by the power that two cows can create.  They move the plow with out any effort.  I don’t know why but it fascinated me and was caught just staring at it for a while.  

The process is this.  The plow driver keeps the plow going straight and lifts it over stumps or moves it around trees you want to keep.  As you can see in my picture I am lifting it over a stump.  Then the two small boys, one on each side use sticks and a rope to steer the cows and keep them on someone of a straight line. The whole processes become somewhat comical after a while especially once my host brother told me what he was yelling at the boys it seemed like every few seconds.  He was yelling at them “don’t sleep wake up!!  The boys would not pay attention or look around or look at me, because I was trying to get a picture of them.  Or they could have not paid attention because it is the month of Ramadan.  During this time everyone is fasting, so no food or water from 5:30am to 7:30pm.

A view from the drivers seat
You may notice that I am wearing flip flops.  I have adopted the custom of doing everything in The Gambia in flip flops.  You can plow a field, roof a house, ride a bike, play soccer or even plant rice.

Throughout the day I kept thinking to myself how we are doing so much with such simple tools.  We have a few cows, a plow, some rope and chain a couple small boys and some big white dude in flip flops.  I kept saying to myself, “so this is what it was like before tractors….”  It was fun, I could totally see myself buying a couple cows, a plow and heading back to my parents backyard farm and testing out my new plowing.  Or another option is move out east and see if the Amish need a hired plow hand??  These are all things I need to weight over the next 20 months before I have to move back….Feel free to kick in some feedback.


  1. The plowing is purely impressive!

  2. Loved your post Mike!
    Keep up the good work, I appreciate all that you're doing over there. It will make the next 20 months or so, fly by like magic. Stay well and enjoy your brief stay in The Gambia.
    Best wishes always,
    Will in IL
    p.s. Incidently, I think in most parts of the world, your "cows" would be called oxen.

  3. Well, I am all caught up now Mike. I can't believe I've missed that many posts. Is my life really that busy, no I think not. Shame on me. I will do much better. That will be my resolution for the New Year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year...can't wait for that post. Oh and here is something sorta relate-able since so much of what you blog about is ag based: we now have 300 calves as neighbors. My boys and I walked down the road and let them suck on our hands and fingers. It was pretty cute and the boys thought it was daring and exciting. All Holsteins, but one adorable Jersey.